Still Alive!

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Thought I’d pop on here and write another check-in sort of post as I have been MIA for some months (Yay Grad School!). My blog, my Youtube channel, my Twitter, and my Facebook page all seem to have gone dark recently while I’ve been scrambling to stay afloat this semester. I’ve still been posting to my personal Facebook, though – and I had started to write another post there when it occurred to me that perhaps I can just start posting some of those things here instead. Sound good? Ok!

List of Things I Want to Eventually Do (But Currently Don’t Have Time For):

  1. Make more doll clothes – I have all of these ideas in my head of epic outfits I want to make! So much 1/6 scale Cosplay in my mind!
  2. Learn Turkish – Ok, so I actually started learning some Turkish last summer via Skype lessons with Mehmet Seyhan (I encourage you to check out his Youtube channel. He teaches both Turkish and Japanese). Unfortunately, I was unable to stick with the Skype lessons because of the demands of grad school and have lost part of what I did learn…
  3. Learn how to play the spoons – Have you ever heard anyone play the spoons? This is just cool.
  4. Get back into fiddle – I actually started playing the fiddle 11 years ago, inspired by the fiddler for a local Celtic band I was enthralled with in undergrad. I wasn’t the greatest at it, but one can only get better with practice. I haven’t touched it in years.
  5. Learn Irish – I’ve been enthralled with Gaeilge since I was in 7th grade. However, I never had many resources for learning it until recent years and no one to really practice with.
  6. Learn Irish Dancing – Another thing I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. But I lived in a small midwestern town where there weren’t many outlets for it and the couple there were, I wasn’t even aware of until I was in undergrad. And now I am much too old for any of the schools I have access to.
  7. Return to Aikido – I started studying Aikido when I was 17. (This is where the “aiki” in my Twitter handle aikifox85 and bookstore AikiFox Books comes from) I was passionate and very involved for a number of years. And then I moved to Champaign 11 years ago when I transferred from community college to the University of Illinois in undergrad and no longer had the time and money to continue. Or rather, I prioritized other things.
  8. Learn Hindi – I know a handful of words and a few sentences that I’ve picked up from movies and from Indian friends over the years. I started trying to teach myself around the same time I started this blog, actually. As is a common theme for me, I got distracted with other things. I still have the books, though.
  9. Make a quilt for myself – I made that Batman quilt for my brother some years ago, which he still has and sleeps with regularly, but have not made another quilt since. And I never *did* manage to go anywhere with the Nataraja quilt idea I had…
  10. Travel – So many places I want to visit! I want to go to India, Turkey, and Ireland most. I want to see Canada, especially Nova Scotia. I want to visit places here in the US as well that I have never seen. Fun Fact: Prior to meeting my boyfriend, I had actually started the paperwork to join the Peace Corps. For better or worse, I chose to stay and invest my time and energy into exploring and then building that relationship. I still feel that pull to venture outward, though.

There are so many wonderful and exciting things in this life, so much to do, to see, to learn – more than can be experienced in a single lifetime. And this is leaving aside the fact that in many cases time and/ or money are luxuries people do not have. And now, back to homework – in the hopes that someday I will have the time and the money in which to do all of these things.

The Struggle Is Real

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Homework keeps me away from blogging for long stretches of time, and so the traffic dwindles. Looking at that bigger picture, though: My MSW.

Oh, do I long for the days when I was complaining about what I thought was a lack of time. Nary did I realize just how much I could push myself to do in short spans of time. Grad school does not screw around. I’d been out of college for 7 years – there are parts of my brain I’ve had to drown in WD-40.

One of the myriad assignments I’m working on this weekend, is a policy brief for the school’s blog site. Yeah, I’m about to get graded on blogging. And, for better or worse, I’m putting my name on it and planning to link back here. I figure any prospective employer or future client can easily find my blog through a cursory googling of my name, so I may as well just go for the cross traffic.

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Although, I am competing with a doctor in Texas for relevancy.

Afterall, I’ve been watching my stats steadily decrease as this page has fallen to the bottom of the priority list since entering grad school. So, Hello newcomers, those trying to decide whether or not to employ me, and random stalkers! Welcome! 😀

As I was saying, I’m trying to put together something decent for this blog assignment. Of course, it made me think of my own poor neglected blog. And so…

I’ve missed you, Blog. I can just be myself with you. You never care about what I’m wearing or how I look – Video always demands that I look my best and then he makes me feel bad because I’m not as conventionally attractive as other Youtubers. He doesn’t listen to me quite the same way. He never wants to just lay in bed and relax in peaceful contemplation together. But, I have to admit that I’ve been seduced by Video. He’s flashy, charismatic, and is quite popular. Can you blame me?
You see, Blog, as much as I love you, there is no way you can ever meet all of my needs, just as Video can never meet all of my needs… I love you both, I…

Ok, that might be the line on literary personification. I don’t see any way going forward with that wouldn’t get creepy. Anyhoo — If you follow this blog, I do recommend checking out the Youtube channel as well. I don’t always link all my videos here, and there have been quite a few. Here is a bit of what you’ve been missing:

-I recently made one of those sped-up coloring videos. The time it took for all the video to render was ridiculous.

-I also managed to pick up one of the 50th Anniversary Star Trek collector Barbies…

On My Mind

I should be working on my midterm paper for my human development class right now. But I keep getting distracted and checking my personal Facebook account. My heart is so sad right now…

I don’t even know what to say or where to focus my grief. A couple of weeks ago, I posted this video on Youtube:

Already overwhelmed by all of the important news stories going on throughout the world, I didn’t know what I should say or how to process it. I needed to tune out and take a break. In just the couple of weeks since that video, even more chaos has erupted. There have been terror attacks by ISIS in Istanbul and in Baghdad, during Ramadan of all times. I considered whether I should change my profile picture to an image of the Turkish flag but then decided not to because I didn’t see how that would help any more than all of the well meaning, but ineffective, thoughts and prayers. And this coming in the wake of the Orlando shooting that I was still processing.

Now there have been more lives needlessly lost on American soil as two more black men have been murdered by police. Unfortunately, this is not a new story. This has happened time and time again, more times than we have news coverage for. There is a long standing pain being felt in African American communities that I have never experienced, but have heard about from the voices of members of those communities. Then just the other night, a group of police officers in Dallas lost their lives by sniper fire that, from accounts I’ve read thus far, came from a couple of black men. And I feel pain for the loss of these lives as well. As much as it seems the media wants to have us believe that this is an either/ or situation, it is not. I recognize and commend the men and women in law enforcement that put their lives on the line to serve and protect – but we also need standards and accountability.

There is so much pain and hate and hurt and sorrow…

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Re-Use Art Show: The New IDEA Store Event Space

Above: Classic photo recursivity – me taking a picture of Melissa Mitchell taking a picture of me taking a picture of her…

Long time readers of this blog will recall both my love of art and my previous posts about The IDEA Store and creative re-use art. On two separate occasions I participated in the Hatch Art Show. Recently, The IDEA Store expanded to include a new classroom as well as event space. This past weekend, on May 20th, 2016 to be specific, they held their grand opening of said event space. My camera and I were in attendance.

Before I get to the actual art, I’d like to share this photo of area artists Cindy Sampson and Melissa Mitchell. I don’t think I can fully express just how wonderful these two women are and how much they inspire me. Not only are they talented artists but they are good, kindhearted people and great friends. While I had taken a couple of standard photos of these two together, I managed to snap this shot in the midst of genuine laughter and storytelling.

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And now, on to the art! These are only a small representation of the works currently on display at the IDEA Store gallery – my understanding is that they’ll be on display through at least June 3, 2016.

 

 

David Spears, “Conundrum”

I just thought this was a really interesting and clever way to use all the stray puzzle pieces that end up scattered about.

Christina Nordholm, “Dance Club”

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Christina Nordholm, “Ready to Burn”

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I particularly like the way she incorporates tree bark into these pieces. I really enjoy the texture. Of the two, I prefer “Ready to Burn” because I personally enjoy the energy coming from it. I’m not sure whether it’s more like looking into the heart of a bonfire or Hell itself. Either way, I like it.

Grace Savina, “Paintings Past”

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I’m not quite sure what it is I’m looking at, but I kind of like that she managed to find a way to use old paint scraps. They almost look like little islands.

Grace Savina, “Dualities of Being”

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Again, not sure what the artist intended for these to be, but, to me, they look like really colorful intestines. Like someone gutted a unicorn. Or it exploded and this was just a section of gut splatter. I kind of doubt this is what she was going for, but this is where my warped mind took it.

Barry Land, “Love is Dead”

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I always get a kick of out this kind of artwork. I have absolutely NO skill for it myself, but scrap-metal sculptures always make me smile. This one also makes me sad, though.

Barry Land, “Untitled”

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Perhaps “Ode to Johnny 5” would have been copyright infringement? And yeah, he also looks like Wall-E. But we all know Wall-E was just a rip off of Johnny 5. If you don’t know who Johnny 5 is, I feel sorry for you, bro.

Jason Rackow, “Untitled”

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Jason Rackow, “Sentience”

This is one of those pieces I would totally hang in my apartment, provided I had the money and the space. I don’t really have anything profound to say here, this piece is just Cool. As. F**k. Look that the close-up shots of that texture. Who knew all those little bits and pieces scattered about the garage could look like this?

Cindy Sampson, “Landscape”

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Cindy Sampson, “Lone Tree”

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I wish I could have gotten a better shot of this one. This was actually my favorite piece of the show and I couldn’t even really capture why. Because I’m too short and it was hanging too high for me to get a head on shot. The glare from the lighting at this angle does this piece a serious injustice.  I’m sure you can make out the main tree of in the painting. It seems to stand amidst a field of ghost trees. What you cannot see well in this photo, is that the paperwork underneath has faded building plans printed on it. To me, it seems to say suggest that this tree lost all of it’s friends and family to ever increasing urban expansion.The fruit and rust stains have the look of blood to me. Yeah, my mind is dark. I am very drawn to artwork like this where I can find and this kind of haunting meaning in it. It’s the kind of art the speaks to me on some deeper level.

 

 

 

No More Excuses/ Garden of Doll Heads

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I am not above using scare tactics to keep my dolls in line. “This is what happens when you use my fabric scissors to cut paper”

I feel like I should be writing something. I also feel like I should be getting around to actually making some videos. I’ve been saying for awhile (over a year, while not necessarily always in this blog) that I want to start making Youtube videos.
-I invested the time and the money into decorating the walls in my craft room because I felt like I couldn’t start doing it unless I had a good background.

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$75+ and over a week invested in decorating these walls.

-Then I needed a camera, because I felt my point and shoot wasn’t good enough.
-Then I needed a tripod.
Then I needed quality editing software.
-Then I needed a computer.

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The new computer. I have yet to justify buying it.

-Lately I’ve been concerned because of an acne flare up and not wanting to be ugly on camera. (Seriously, how am I still getting acne in my 30s? This is not fair)

Enough excuses. I will be making a Youtube debut before the end of the day on Friday of next week (4/15/2016). Maybe it will be crappy. But I need to stop talking about it and just *do it already*.

I’m also fully aware that I really need to finish the next segment of The Mission as well. I’m going to make sure I get that done before April is over. No more excuses. The start of grad school is only 2 months away. I need to utilize this time while I still have it.

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Earlier this weekend, I went out to ACME Elfworks – my friend Melissa Mitchell’s studio -for the Annual Boneyard Arts festival. She’s a super cool re-use artist that uses a lot of found objects in her artwork. Many of her pieces incorporate dolls or various doll body parts. Her artwork is often whimsical, but can also be kind of creepy – and I love that. I first met her whilst I was involved with the HATCH art show about 3 years ago. I just happened to have my camera with me and have decided to share some of these photos with you all.

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❤ the cart full of rats

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Reminds me of Sid’s creation from the original Toy Story movie.

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In case you were curious what became of Charlie Horse. He couldn’t cope after Lamb Chop’s Play Along ended – his heart was broken after he caught Lamb in bed with Hush Puppy and turned to drugs and gambling. Sherry Lewis attempted an intervention once before her death, but Charlie refused rehab. Unable to pay his debts one night, he was taken into a back alley where he was beaten to death. His lifeless body was thrown into a dumpster. I believe this is where Melissa found his little pony corpse. Not entirely sure what she did with the rest of the body. It’s possible her cats ate it.

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A lush garden of doll heads. Melissa hacks off their scalps and uses them as macabre planters. This is a thing I shall someday do when I have a garden of my own.

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I love the way her lifeless eyes are glazed over. Even in death, Barbie continues to smile.

50 Years of Influence

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In 1996, Mattel released this Barbie and Ken set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. These were the first dolls I remember longing for.

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the show and this production was, essentially, an array of selected clips from the shows and movies projected on a giant theater screen while a live orchestra played iconic Trek music. For me, this was a very moving experience. For an idea of what this was, I’d like to share this video put together by benandbarry on Youtube (I’m very impressed by the smooth transition in editing here, this is actually multiple pieces of the production spliced together):

Star Trek was something that I grew up with. My father was a Trekkie and would always watch it, pointing out the ways in which science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. The Next Generation (TNG) first aired in 1987, when I was only 2 years old. With the quick succession of TNG, Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Voyager, you could say I literally grew up with it. While the major drawing factor for my father was the technology, I was drawn in and deeply affected by the rich social and philosophical lessons the episodes and films had to offer. These lessons helped to guide me and shape my worldview. There were two characters in particular that I looked up to:

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Mr. Spock. Picard’s words of wisdom and diplomacy modeled the kind of person, the kind of leader I longed, still long to be. He was firm and fair. He took his commanding role seriously but without being power driven. He lead by example, respected order and law but did not falter in instances where that order and law worked to the detriment of the populace. In his words, “the claim ‘I was only following orders’ has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn’t want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation” (Redemption II, 1991). There was an excellent piece written by Alex Knapp in Forbes in 2012 that does a great job capturing the ways in which Picard was a great leader.

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Mr. Spock’s intellect, logic, and, most importantly, control over his emotions, were characteristics that I wanted for myself. During the often turbulent years of my childhood, and even during trying times of my adulthood, I would have given anything to maintain the calm and emotion-free state of a Vulcan. But Spock was not fully Vulcan, he was half Human. Because of this, there are times during which you can see him grappling with emotions that, I wager, present themselves more strongly within him than within a full Vulcan. “I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half… I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both…” (The Enemy Within, 1966).

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Halloween 1997. Seeking to emulate both of these role models as a TNG era Vulcan Captain.

With a nod to the roots of this blog, I feel I would be remiss if I neglected the wardrobe. Yes, I own an array of Star Trek tshirts (you can read a previous bit about tshirts here) and I also own a uniform inspired hoodie complete with insignia and rank pips. In the film, First Contact, Picard says to Data, “…touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”  Indeed, in a similar way, wearing that uniform-hoodie does make me feel a certain connection to these characters and those traits that I admire. And is it any surprise that one of the first outfits I made for my Lammily doll was a Starfleet uniform?

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Lammily Embraces Barbie’s Evolution

WARNING: The following contains photos of naked dolls.
All of these dolls are of legal age (in doll years) and consented to
having these photos taken.
If you have moral issues with naked dolls, you may want to exit now.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we knew this post was coming. Barbie has been blowing up my social media feeds since last week Thursday when Mattel announced that they would be releasing three new body types in their Barbie Fashionista line. And I get it. This is a huge deal for pretty much all of doll-kind and represents a major shift in society. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss this new direction. Because there is so much that I can say about this change, so much that has already been said, and because I want to avoid a TL;DR post, I will be splitting this into two posts. In this first post, I will simply provide a photo comparison of these dolls. In the next post, I will be sharing my thoughts about these changes and answering some of the common arguments I see online about the movement to have more body positive dolls.

BUT I know that most of you are likely more anxious to get to photos of these new dolls. And I am happy to oblige.

First, here are all three of my girls with the new body types: Petite, Curvy, and Tall.

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Now is when the clothes come off. Here are each of these dolls in the nude so that you can see how they’re structured. The extra body I am comparing them to is the Original style Fashionista body. Please forgive her lack of a head – I had already rebodied her to a Liv doll:

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Skipper doll to compare Petite with – I know some of you are curious as to whether Mattel cheated a bit with this doll. But, she seems to have an adult style body to me. I also really like the bit of maroon in her hair.

Tall is very slender, a bit flatter chested, and has a much more subtle cinch in her waist than the other dolls.

Curvy’s blue hair is actually a mix of blue and black. I really like it and this lady already feels like she has some serious personality.  She has more of a pear shape to her – her cup size seems to be about the same as Original to me, but she certainly has more in the trunk and has a bit of a paunch on her belly.

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Next, I wanted to see how these girls compared to some of my other dolls.

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L to R: Lammily, Curvy, one of my Prettie Girls, Original, Made to Move, one of my Mixis, a Liv, My Scene Barbie, Classic Barbie, Tall, Petite

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, Mixis

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L to R: Classic, Original, Made to Move, Curvy, Prettie Girl, Lammily, My Scene, Petite, Tall, and Mixis

In particular, I couldn’t help but notice these two groups – the 3 dolls that all have less drastic cinches to their waists (which seems more natural to me) and the 4 that all have ample “junk in the trunk”, for lack of better phrasing. Lammily and Mixis belong to both of these groups.

Now to try on clothes!

It seems Petite, Tall, and Original can all share clothes with each other, although the fit may be a little different. What is a dress for Petite will fit Tall but would require the addition of leggings for your doll to maintain her modesty. The outfit still works, though.

I played around with having Prettie Girl try on Curvy’s clothes, since they both have larger behinds. Curvy’s shirt fits OK, although midriff baring, but the skirt is just too loose. I then have Petite try on Prettie Girl’s outfit. It works, but the fit is loose. Great for those days when Petite might want to just lounge around the apartment.

SHOES:  Curvy and Tall each have slightly bigger feet than the other Barbies. But, Curvy’s feet are too small to wear Mixis or Prettie Girl shoes and, similarly, those dolls have feet that are too big for the Curvy/Tall shoes. Lammily’s feet are altogether bigger than all of them, so, no shoe swapping here.

And now, what I know everyone is curious to know – How do Curvy Barbie and Lammily relate to each other?

As you can see, Curvy’s legs are still rather long and her torso sits much higher. Curvy’s arms are thinner and her hourglass shape seems more cartoon-ish by comparison. Also, while Lammily’s range of motion isn’t the best on the market, until Mattel gives these new bodies Made to Move articulation, Lammily still leads in this area.

But can they share clothes? Well, Curvy can certainly borrow clothes from Lammily’s closet:

Although, Lammily’s clothes may be a bit baggy. This is because even Curvy’s proportions are still smaller than Lammily’s. The sharing only goes one way:

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments as well as if there are any comparisons or poses you’d like to see.